Review: Total Control by Jackie Ashenden

total controlTitle: Total Control

Author: Jackie Ashenden

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Computer genius/coder Sabrina Leighton

The hero: Helicopter pilot Kellan Blake

The blurb: Helicopter pilot Kellan Blake has always hated being told what to do, so being discharged from the army for insubordination doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What does surprise him is that when he joins up with the elite, underground 11th Hour squad instead, they send him straight home. The nest of vipers that calls itself his family is the next target for the team’s tech unit, so he’ll either have to brave their traps and deceptions himself—or watch his sweet, shy friend Sabrina walk into them alone . . .

Sabrina’s no femme fatale, but since there’s no one else with the tech skills to get the info they need, she’ll put on a party dress and take one for the team. But whoever decided she should pretend to be Kellan’s new fiancée hit a little too close to home. How can she concentrate on a dangerous mission when she’s worried about giving away what she really feels for her loyal, passionate, smoking hot partner? At least she isn’t likely to blow their cover. Until she’s in the line of fire, and neither Kellan’s demons nor his heart are hers to tame . . .

Standalone or series: Book two in the 11th Hour series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I have book one in this series and was going to read them in order, but the lure of a best friends to lovers book by Jackie was too much to resist… and I’m glad I caved.

Kellan Blake and Sabrina Leighton work for 11th Hour, a privately run underground organisation that does missions just this side of legal for its elusive owner, Jacob Night. When Kellan is instructed to investigate reports that his ex-General father, Philip, is selling guns to cartels, Kellan baulks. The information must be false because there’s no way his father – a war hero – could be doing something that’s getting innocent people. But Kellan is given an ultimatum by Jacob Night – either prove his father innocent or someone else in the team will do it.

Not only is having to investigate his father bad enough, but Kellan is also told to take Sabrina with him. As a coding expert, she’s the best person to find incriminating evidence on Philip’s personal computer because it will no doubt be encrypted. Kellan and Sabrina, whom he calls Bree, have been best friends since they were ten. Sabrina’s father was the gardener at the Blake residence, a job he got after Sabrina’s mother and two brothers died in a car accident, but her father couldn’t cope and took off, leaving Sabrina in the care of the Blakes. They took her in and gave her shelter, but Charlotte Blake always did a good job of reminding Sabrina quietly that she wasn’t really part of the family.

Having lost everyone she ever loved, Sabrina will never take the risk of telling Kellan the truth of how she feels about him – she’s been in love with him for years. So when it’s suggested they use a cover story of being engaged to explain the sudden visit to Kellan’s parents, Sabrina is uneasy at the notion. But since they have to move quickly and nothing better is suggested, that’s what they go with.

What follows is the revelation of secrets. Everyone has them – Kellan, Sabrina, Charlotte and Philip. Kellan won’t stop until he finds out the truth about whether his father is gun running or not; Sabrina is determined Kellan will never discover the secret she knows about his father, and the elder Blakes have been hiding secrets of their own. Kellan and Sabrina follow the clues and when Sabrina’s feelings finally come out, Kellan is forced to examine his own and see the truth that’s been buried for a long time.

I found both protagonists a little frustrating at times and wanted to shake them both – Kellan more so than Sabrina. He’s has this beautiful, loyal woman who’s stuck with him through everything and he doesn’t really see her as a woman, see how amazing she is. I wanted to smack him upside the head!

The sex scenes. Oh, boy. They were so hot I’m surprised my book didn’t turn into ash in my hands! Definitely some of the best I’ve ever read. If you love best friends to lovers books, you’ve got to read this one.




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